Reviews for Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
Booklist Reviews 2007 September #1
*Starred Review* Contemporary realism, set askew, is the silver streak of Zevin, whose Elsewhere (2005) depicted a teen's experiences in the afterlife. This equally sensitive, joyful novel, her second for YAs, tackles the slippery nature of human identity, deceptively tucked within a plot familiar from TV soaps. After high-school junior Naomi conks her head, she can't remember anything that happened since sixth grade. She is by turns mystified and startled by evidence of her present life, from the birth-control pills in her bedside table to her parents' astonishing, rancorous split. Eventually, the memories return, leaving Naomi questioning the basis of a new, intense romance, and wondering which of her two lives, present or former, represents her most authentic self. The amnesia device could have been more convincingly played, but Zevin writes revealingly about emotions and relationships. Especially vivid is the Hepburn-Tracy bond Naomi shares with yearbook co-chief Will, whom she wounds with her lurching self-reinvention even as she discovers deeper feelings: "I had thought the way I felt about Will was just a room, but it had turned out to be a mansion." Pulled by the heart-bruising love story, readers will pause to contemplate irresistible questions: If the past were a blank slate, what would you become? Does the search for one's truest identity necessarily mean rejecting all that has gone before? Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #5
What if you were given a blank slate to rewrite who you are? An accidental fall gives Naomi Porter just about that, wiping out the past four years of her life. Naomi remembers nothing after sixth grade and now has to piece together who she has become at age sixteen. Her devoted best friend, Will, helps fill in many of the blanks, including their prized roles as co-editors of the school yearbook. Naomi recognizes neither Will nor her boyfriend, popular tennis jock Ace, though Will instantly feels "comfortable and broken-in like favorite jeans," while she wonders what she and Ace ever had in common. More intriguing is mysterious new boy James. The book is a page-turning novel of self-discovery, drawing readers on as Naomi uncovers facts about her own life: birth control pills in a drawer, a half sister she's refused to meet. Zevin, author of Elsewhere (rev. 9/05), portrays the amnesia as neither blessing nor curse: it causes Naomi to relive some painful experiences (her parents' divorce, her mom's infidelity) but also opens new doors (a role in a school play, falling in love). Given the opportunity to view her life almost as an outside observer, she makes choices both praiseworthy and questionable, much like any other teenager. Honest and complex characterization grounds a thoughtful, suspenseful examination of memory and identity. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 August #2
Zevin constructs a unique take on the teenage question of "Who Am I?" New York City sophomore Naomi Porter must re-invent herself, re-construct her life and undergo a re-birth on her journey back from a head injury that leaves her with nine stitches and a memory loss spanning the four years since sixth grade. She struggles to adjust to her high school's caste system and to comprehend the roles of four males in her life. Ace, the tennis jock, is her forgotten boyfriend. Will, her yearbook co-editor, doubles as her best friend, and then there's the hauntingly intriguing James, her new crush. Her father, the fourth guy, loses her trust when Naomi discovers her parents are divorced and he plans to remarry. Rather than listing her many amnesia problems, Zevin deftly reveals Naomi's dilemma with concise phrasing. " ‘Hello,' I greeted myself. ‘I'm Naomi.' The girl in the mirror didn't seem convinced." This unusual love story has only a few lapses and will be well received by teens intrigued by the concept. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 August #1
Departing from the science fiction premise of Elsewhere, Zevin cooks up an entertaining love story out of what her narrator calls "chance, gravity and a dash of head trauma." As the novel opens, 16-year-old Naomi has fallen down a flight of stairs and lost all memory of the past four years. She doesn't remember her parents' divorce (not to mention her mother's remarriage, her half-sister and her father's recent engagement to a tango dancer). Her best friend, Will, with whom she co-edits the school yearbook, and Ace, her tennis-player boyfriend, seem like strangers. What Naomi does remember is James, the first person she saw after her accident. The image of the boy--who helped her to the hospital and stayed to make sure she was all right--lingers as she tries to sort out her past and her feelings. Well-defined characters and convincing narration camouflage the Lifetime- movie premise and the inevitability of every plot turn (no one will doubt which characters will become romantically involved and who will end up together). Naomi, adopted in infancy from a Russian orphanage, can summon up more than enough hidden emotional depths to counterweight the slicker aspects of the story; teens will identify with her vulnerability and her heightened feelings of alienation. And fans of psychological dramas won't want to put this book down. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) [Page 190]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2007 October
Gr 8-11-- When Naomi Porter takes a nasty fall, she loses all memory of the past four years. She's not sure if she's had sex with her boyfriend or what she saw in him, and she has no recollection that her adoptive parents are divorced, that she hasn't talked to her mother since her half sister was born, or that she's not wild about her dad's fiance. Luckily, her buddy and yearbook coeditor, Will, is willing to clue her in on her lost life, leaving out the detail that before she lost her memory, they had shared a kiss. The only thing that eases Naomi's discomfort is the knowledge that she's not entirely alone. James, the first one to arrive on the scene of her accident, is not only handsome and mysterious, but he's also interested in starting off with a blank slate. They eventually fall for one another and begin to date, but precisely as Naomi's memory returns, she realizes that James's troubles run deep. An assignment for a photography class helps Naomi reconnect with her mother, a photographer, and understand how her definition of a family can evolve. Zevin realistically examines the power of memory through Naomi and the subplot regarding her parents' joint career and failed marriage. The cast of sympathetic characters, especially James, who suffers from depression following the death of his brother, will resound with teens. Though not as wholly engrossing as Elsewhere (Farrar, 2005), this is a compelling read with intelligent dialogue that's also touching and funny.--Jennifer Barnes, Homewood Library, IL [Page 168]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 October
When Naomi Porter realizes that she and Will Landsman, her best friend and co-editor of the yearbook, left a brand new $3,600 camera in the yearbook staff offices, they toss a coin to see who will make the trek from the school parking lot to the offices and back. Naomi loses the coin toss, and while she is walking back down the front steps of the school, she slips and falls. In desperation, she dives to save the camera. The camera survives intact, but Naomi does not. She hits her head on the steps and wakes up in an ambulance next to James Larkin, who claims to be her boyfriend. Naomi has no recollection of meeting James, nor of anything else that has happened in the last five years. Her friends and family are eager to help her get back to her life, but she is not certain that she wants to go back to being the person that everybody tells her she isThe everyday events of Naomi's life appear to be standard-issue, young-adult-novel fare but Zevin takes romance, changing friendships, and familial dysfunctions and blends them with themes of chance, loss, and choice. The result is a quiet exploration of identity and self-realization that is simultaneously thought provoking and entertaining. Subtle humor helps to balance the abundance of serious themes. Peripheral characters are quirky and endearing, and Naomi is someone whom readers will love, hate, and want to be. This book will generate discussion and pass from teen to teen.-Carlisle K. Webber 5Q 5P J S Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.